LOS ANGELES, Jan 06, 2014 (AFP) - A co-pilot was killed and two pilots injured when a private jet crashed and burst into flames Sunday at the airport that serves Aspen, the exclusive skiing resort, reports said.
Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the casualties after the plane smashed into the runway at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in the state of Colorado. “Three on board: one fatality, one serious and one minor injuries,” Pitkin County Undersheriff Ron Ryan told AFP in an email.
The victim was identified as 54-year-old co-pilot Sergio Carranza Brabata of Mexico, according to media reports which said the two survivors were pilots. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the plane was a Bombardier Challenger 600, a 22-seater aircraft traveling from Tucson in Arizona to Aspen.
It crashed while attempting to land, Kenitzer confirmed to AFP in an email.
Photographs of the crash site on the website of Denver NBC television affiliate KUSA TV showed the blackened overturned fuselage of the plane on a snow-blanketed runway.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but tracking information from website FlightAware.com suggested the plane circled the airport three times before going in for the landing.
Aspen is a popular winter holiday destination beloved of celebrities. The comedian Kevin Nealon and the singer LeAnn Rimes both posted Tweets after witnessing the crash.
“Horrible plane crash here at Aspen airport. Exploded into flames as it was landing. I think it was a private jet,” wrote Nealon, best known for his recurring role in the television black comedy “Weeds”.
“Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles still at scene. No word on survivors or who was on jet but I can’t imagine there are survivors,” Nealon wrote on Twitter.
Rimes added: “So sad. Horrible plane crash we just saw happen at the Aspen airport.”